Case Studies

Frank L. Blum Construction Company

Celebrating 90 Years of Top-notch Service

Drive down the streets of the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina (Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point) and the work of Frank L. Blum Construction Company (Blum Construction) will be in full sight. Frank Blum founded the company in 1923 with North Carolina license No. 18, making his company’s authorization the lowest number still actively in use.

Blum Construction survived and even thrived through the Great Depression, economic dips in the 1970s and 1990s, and through the most recent economic recession by sticking to the philosophy that Frank Blum solidified so many years ago: provide exceptional construction services with unsurpassed integrity and become the trusted contracting partner of choice for clients in the Triad Area.

Frank L. Blum Construction Company ReviewTrue to its roots, the company continues to maintain headquarters in its historic hometown of Winston-Salem, N.C. Here, roughly 70 professionals join together to provide construction management services. Blum Construction also operates a smaller masonry division providing highly skilled custom masonry services to both projects managed by Blum Construction and to outside clients. The company – led by managing partners J. Andrews (Drew) Hancock, president; Michael E. (Mike) Lancaster, vice president of construction services; Mark R. Dunnagan (vice president of business development), Richard C. (Ricky) Touchstone, senior project manager; and William L. (Bill) Ball, CFO – operates like a family, with all employees working together to craft iconic new construction, remodeling and restoration work throughout the region.

Blum Construction’s goal is to be a true partner for its clients in construction, approaching each project not as a structure simply needing to be built, but as a construction ally for the client’s overall mission. As a result, the company maintains a loyal client following in both the commercial and institutional markets, particularly the higher education, healthcare, religious and senior living sectors. Instead of focusing on any one sector, though, Blum Construction chooses to create a niche for itself by targeting projects that require lots of safety planning, contractor coordination and risk assessment.

Blum Construction’s team thrives while operating on a tight site and under the kind of compressed schedule or occupied building that would be daunting to less experienced construction management firms. The company’s managers work with a network of trusted subcontractors that can deliver under complex logistics.

“It isn’t that we search for difficult projects,” says Hancock. “It’s that we, and our customers and design partners, trust our tried-and-true methods. We are well known for doing extensive preplanning, maintaining open and candid communication, keeping meticulous records and providing detailed reports.”

The secret is Blum Construction’s signature, trademarked MAP Preconstruction Process, which enables the team to manage a wide range of complexities on any given project. The process provides reoccurring opportunities for project managers to reassess progress based on budget, scheduling, inspection milestones and safety performance. The system also provides project supervisors with a method to review all the required documentation for a project, including all the documentation for pursuing LEED certification.

Making History

Blum Construction embraced sustainable building and LEED certification early on and has helped construct some of the Triad area’s first LEED-certified buildings. Blum Construction employs six LEED Accredited Professionals, including two field managers. The company was recently called upon to lend this expertise to the construction of Farrell Hall at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., which will serve as a new home for the institution’s undergraduate and graduate Schools of Business. New York-based Robert A.M. Stern Architects designed the 120,000-square foot facility to achieve LEED Gold certification and provide the programs with state-of-the-art learning facilities.

Construction of the $53 million project moved forward with the announcement of a $10 million gift on the behalf of the late Mike Farrell and his wife, Mary. Mike Ferrell previously had served on the Board of Visitors at the Schools of Business and the university raised the majority of the $53 million by the time construction broke ground. Of course, contributions from an active and passionate donor base required the project to be managed by a flexible and agile team such as Blum Construction.

The company engaged directly with the university to identify the best way to involve donors and alumni and worked with the university community to arrange several on-site construction tours and a monthly newsletter, suitable for distribution to all interested stakeholders, detailing the project’s progress.

Reliable, Dependable

Farrell Hall represents just one of many facilities Blum Construction has helped build for Wake Forest University over the years. In 2008 the company oversaw the construction of Deacon Tower, a seven-story, state-of-the-art press facility that abuts the university’s football stadium. The university challenged the Blum Construction team to demolish the previous press box and build a new facility on a zero-tolerance site with an active student community and through the 2007 football season.

Despite challenges, Blum Construction pulled it off and delivered the $48 million project on time and on budget. As of late 2012 the company had crews at work on Farrell Hall and at three additional sites close by on the Wake Forest University campus, completing work on two new residential facilities and one dining hall. When completed, the block of new facilities will form a revamped and consolidated entrance point to the campus and Blum Construction continues to work closely with the university’s facilities and campus services team to help relay important construction progress updates to the campus community.

Similarly reinforcing the importance of extra communication, the firm has helmed projects for religious institutions, where the extra effort helps keep the congregation informed, educated, engaged and enthusiastic throughout the construction process. The Blum Construction team is preparing for an $8 million renovation project at the First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro.

The work will target two of the church’s oldest buildings, which date back to the church’s opening in 1928. Construction crews will upgrade the building’s mechanical systems and replace the church’s large underground boiler unit, the HVAC units and all electrical and plumbing systems. The positive impact of these improvements is expected to be in the neighborhood of $50,000 saved annually in operating costs, although the congregation opted not to pursue LEED certification. All the same, Blum Construction will leverage its extensive expertise to ensure the congregation receives a building designed to last another 85 years and remains informed of the project’s progress at all times.

Throughout all of its efforts the team at Blum Construction solidifies the company’s reputation as one of the best, most trusted builders in the Southeast. Approaching its 90-year anniversary in 2013, Frank L. Blum Construction Company continues to offer an exceptional experience to the Triad area construction community.

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